Monday 30 April 2012

Matthew Parris, iconoclast once more. But will the gay rights lobby like it?

Mathew Parris has featured on this blog before for his comments about the Christian faith, but last week he once again challenged the dogma of the gay rights lobby that sexual orientation is fixed and unchangeable.

In an iconoclastic piece in the Times, titled ‘Who’s totally gay? There’s no straight answer’(£) the former Tory MP turned columnist provocatively lamented that ‘Same-sex male attraction used to be something you do, not something you are’.

Citing the story of Chris Birch, from Wales, who has testified to turning from being heterosexual to being gay after suffering a stroke, and Anglican Mainstream's controversial bus advert campaign claiming that sexual orientation can change, he takes the cherished belief that sexual orientation is always fixed and unchangeable apart.

‘On one thing, though, these opinions all agree — people can change… I do believe that male sexual orientation is less fixed than we suppose. It may alter. We gays fought that idiotic “section 28” on dishonest grounds. Homosexuality can, as the statute implied, be “promoted”. So can heterosexuality.'

He qualifies this by stressing that for some any change will be very limited if not impossible:

‘At once must come the qualifications. I don’t think that everyone is alterable. I don’t think change is possible without shelving part of one’s nature. I think that it’s generally unwise to fight a strong orientation unless it would lead to hurt. And I absolutely don’t think that homosexuality can be “cured” in the sense of expelling some kind of disease from the system.’

He then presents a popular vision of the Kinsey scale – the observation that some people are neither exclusively homosexual nor heterosexual but somewhere in between:

‘Try an experiment. Imagine that a majority of men are more straight than gay, a minority more gay than straight. Imagine this in terms of a scatter-graph from left (straight) to right (gay), with some very close to one end, some very close to the other and plenty spread between them. Imagine that those at either pole can feel little if any attraction to the other; but that those between the poles can, depending on where they are, feel weakly or strongly the attraction of both poles. Add to this picture a strong and unremitting social pressure to be considered (and consider yourself) as being at the left-hand (straight) end.

What would be the result? Everyone who, without making themselves too frustrated and miserable, could live a straight life would move towards the left in their behaviour and self-description; a minority who felt they just couldn’t would cluster (partly for self-defence) into a sort of ghetto at the right-hand end. And all the pressure would be to “make your mind up”, ie, shift towards the nearest pole.’

He emphasises the need for evidence to support his ‘hypothesis’, but from his own experience as a gay man says:

‘I’ve slept with as many men who considered themselves basically straight, lived basically straight lives and in some cases (I think) really were basically straight, as with men who were self-identifying gays.This is not my experience alone. Most gay men manage the considerable intellectual contortion of believing that there’s nothing they could do to alter their own sexuality while at the same time believing (not without evidence) that there’s quite a lot they might do to alter a straight man’s sexuality (“five pints of lager” is the usual prescription)… Even I, who feel myself to be exclusively gay, know from dreams and from occasional involuntary physical reactions that shelved somewhere in my unconscious must be a strand of heterosexuality. Millions of gay men will have the same experiences.’

His conclusion is iconoclastic to the extreme, and no one but a gay man could have got away with saying it:

‘“I can’t help it”. The very words carry a kind of whimper. I hate this plea. It isn’t accepted as an argument for paedophilia and shouldn’t be. I’d want to be gay whether I could help it or not. The day that the battle for homosexual equality is won and over will be the day a man, straight or gay, can boast that he chose.’

There is of course nothing new in what Matthew Parris is saying and he has said it before as has leading gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.

They are not alone in thinking this way.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has stated, ‘some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person's lifetime’. The APA also says that ‘for some the focus of sexual interest will shift at various points through the life span...’

A report from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health similarly states, ‘For some people, sexual orientation is continuous and fixed throughout their lives. For others, sexual orientation may be fluid and change over time’

But whether the general population will come to believe it is another matter entirely.


  1. I think this is a new strategy coming out from the gay political lobby. They are facing real problems now — problems that emerge from reality and menacing the continuity of society —, and therefore they are switching the discourse. This is another way, a clever one, towards culturally normalizing homosexuality avoiding the logical problems put by the logical categories inherent to reality itself.

    A knew a gay men who told me: “This is a club; once you entered in it, you'll never get out”. There's no such thing as “an heterosexual with homosexual experiences”: an heterosexual who entered the club is a gay.

    One thing is for sure: the gay political lobby is anything but stupid.

    1. Orlando
      -it may become recognised through the science of chromosome analysis
      that homosexual orientation, which fulfils no evidemt biological purpose
      is in fact a genetic abnormality transmittied unchanged in a small percentage of the population through the maternal mitochondrial DNA, which allows it to bypass the normal eradication by natural selection - as is the case of various medical conditions which are transmitted in this same manner as has been recently demonstrated.
      If this proves to be the case,it would have two effects:
      1) it would pull the rug from under fundamentalists by demonstarting that homosexuality is in fact 'natural'
      2) it would shoot the gay 'rights'fanatic's fox by invalidating their claim that homosexual relationships are 'equivalent and equal in every way' to the heterosexual, since homosexuality would be demonstrated to be a heterosexuality with a genetic disability.

      The demands, rights and protections for homosexuality could then be treated on the same basis as people with other disabilities are.
      Yours sinecerely,

  2. This reasoning is based upon the assumption of the principle that the homosexual act is not a sexual deviation. However, as Aristotle tough us, when a principle is wrong all reasoning is wrong too.

    Imagine a guy who says:

    “In-spite of having sexual experiences with my dog and with my goat, I am not a zoophile, because I realized that having sex with my goat and dog was not a good experience. Therefore, I could say that there are some people whose sexuality naturally fluctuates between a normal behavior and a zoophile behavior”.

    This guy's discourse would be absolutely logical from the day APA takes out zoophilia out of the sexual deviations.

  3. i think the problem with the fixed vs fluid argument about sexuality is that it isn't solely based on sexual desire.

    personally, i can not fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, and could not spend my life with a member of the opposite sex because i'm not emotionally attracted to men on any level. so my sexuality is fluid in terms of the fact i could choose to sleep with men but beyond that, for me my attraction to the same sex is something i have not chosen and that i cannot change.

    i think his qualifying statements say it all. i think rarely is it in anyone's best interest to deny their sexuality, and although it may be possible to 'change' your sexuality on the outside, i don't think a genuine orientation can be altered. but that's coming from me, i think people only have a right to judge their own situation and so if someone thinks they have changed orientation then let them without trying to enforce a blanket rule on all sexuality saying it is changeable.

    my other observation, is that by the logic that gay people can become straight, then straight people can surely become gay. yet pretty much every one of my straight friends has no desire to be with, or sleep with, someone of the same sex, some are even disgusted by the idea... how does that factor in?

    and lastly, having read these blogs for a while, i am genuinely interested in what Dr Saunder's vested interest is in questions of sexuality? is there an agenda behind them or is it simply an interest in expressing what you feel is truth, or is it for the sake of debate?

  4. 1) Human relationships were long ago characterized by four main components: libido, eros, philia and agape. A relationship can have more influence of one of the four, but cannot be free of all of them.

    2) Science cannot define ethics. Responsibility is a non-scientific matter. The idea of “moral responsibility” resides uniquely upon subjective experiences. Science only figures out actions determined by laws of nature; it does not conceive neither autonomy, nor subject, nor conscience, nor responsibility. Ethics belongs to metaphysics which is characterized by lack of “objective basis”.

    Therefore, any scientific study intending to define ethics and moral — as for example the Kinsey “scientific” theory — should be considered void.

    3) When science intends to influence ethics, responsibility becomes a determined factor. One serial killer could, then, say to the judge: “I am sorry, Your Honour, but I am not guilty! My genes should be blamed for the killings!”

    4) The search for the truth must not be considered a “political agenda”. People should not be shut up because they have logical arguments that rationally contradict the correct ideas of the Zeitgeist.


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