The Claims of Nature

The "can gays change" debate is dodging the main issues.

Reason , October 1998

In 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association took homosexuality off its list of mental disorders, this summer's controversy over whether gays can change would have been hard to imagine. Although there were always people understood to be spinsters and "confirmed bachelors" for reasons other than independence or social ineptitude, few heterosexuals knew any out-of-the-closet gays. Same-sex dates certainly weren't likely to show up at family gatherings or business dinner parties--much less White House functions or the Academy Awards. To be openly gay was to stand outside normal society. Bourgeois mores, it was thought, depended on pretending that homosexuality did not exist