Homosexual Counseling Journal
The Quarterly Journal of The Homosexual Community Counseling Center
Dr. Ralph Blair, Editor
1974 Editorials: Charter Volume, Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4
1975 Editorials: Volume II, Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4
1976 Editorials: Volume III, Numbers 1, 2
“Dr. Blair is scrupulously thorough and shows a remarkable analytic ability in his evaluation of the research of others. Indeed, his survey of the etiology of homosexuality is to my mind the best in existence.”
Carlfred B. Broderick, Ph.D., Editor
Journal of Marriage and the Family
“Ralph Blair has written a splendid survey of the etiology of homosexuality. [Blair’s] Homosexual Counseling Journal is attractive and so full of news and helpful information that it should be welcomed by many.”
Walter C. Alvarez, M.D.
Emeritus Consultant, Mayo Clinic
VOL. 1, NO. 1, JANUARY 1974
It was right for the Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality from the listing of mental disorders in the Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. At long last, those at the top of the psychiatric profession reached the conclusion that, in terms of nomenclature, homosexuality does not meet the criteria for being considered a psychiatric disorder. These psychiatrists educated themselves through critical evaluation of the evidence from both within and without the homosexual community. They recognized that homosexuality per se does not regularly cause subjective distress nor is it regularly associated with some generalized impairment in social effectiveness. This decision should help to improve the chances for greater public acceptance of homosexual men and women.
The one unfortunate move of the Trustees was that they also created a new category, Sexual orientation disturbance, to replace the discarded category of homosexuality. This entry applies to those who, among others and because of introjected negative thinking about homosexuality, feel that they would be better off as heterosexual. To this end they will be led to invest large amounts of time and money to try for psychiatric reversal of orientation. Unfortunately, their hopes cannot be bolstered by histories of success in such effort. In the process, the lives of third parties will be disrupted and the homosexuals will lose opportunities to learn repertoire for functioning appropriately in terms of their fundamental sexual orientation.
Homoerotiphobic psychiatrists are pressing now for a referendum of the entire APA membership in an attempt to overturn the Trustees’ decision to no longer list homosexuality as a mental disorder. When psychiatrists think about behavior which has been so unacceptable in their society, it may be unrealistic to expect that many of them could set aside their prejudices and assess the matter in rigorous diagnostic and statistical terms. Elsewhere in this issue of the Journal, May’s findings suggest that attitudes of members of the helping professions may have little to do with professional training and much to do with pre-professional opinions. The training of psychiatrists has been inadequate to counter popular notions about homosexuality. The response to a referendum might be characterized by what could be called, in Veblenian terms, a “trained incapacity” on the part of grass roots psychiatrists, as either citizens or psychiatrists, to change their impressions in light of more recent and accurate information.
How long the APA members may debate the definitions and what such a rank and file referendum could produce remain to be seen. In the meantime, homosexuals and all who may have anything to do with homosexuals (relatives, friends, coworkers, etc.) continue to need services which are generally lacking. These services include supportive counseling and sex education which refuses to raise expectations to unrealistic levels in terms of orientation reversal. People must adapt realistically to a sexual orientation which, as a normal human variety, can be a source of enjoyment and fulfillment once myths are shed and serious attention is paid to the solving of problems for which there has been so little, if any, preparation.
VOL. 1, NO. 2, APRIL 1974
The verdicts of those unenlightened university administrators who, in the spring of 1972, first attacked Joe Acanfora’s fitness to teach as an openly gay school teacher have led to the courts. In a ruling this winter, the former earth sciences teacher is not allowed to teach because he acknowledges publicly that he is homosexual. (See NEWS)
The vocational discrimination itself is deplorable and there are insidious “lessons” in such a ruling. The decision is bad enough for Acanfora but it is also tragic for millions of homosexually-developing young people isolated across the country, forced to deal so independently with their unexpected differentness. Without role models to whom they can look and say, “Yes, see, there are others right here—everyday people like I am—who also are gay,” they shall have to continue to conclude that they are left with only the stereotypes of limp wrists or clenched fists from which to choose a life style and vocation consistent with their sexual orientation. Contrary to the prejudices of those who seek to keep all gay adults away from “impressionable” young men and women, there are few more basic supports than those which could be provided by the recognition that there is much more to the life of a homosexual than the person’s sex acts. This is precisely what a young student could observe in the day to day interaction with a good teacher who was comfortable with his or her homosexual identity but who would be seen as a real human being in other ways as well. Our homosexually-developing children will eventually find others—or will be found by others—with whom to have sex, even though this may be so sadly late in life because of the denial forced on them throughout their earlier years. But will we, as responsible members of the helping professions, not permit those who are already homosexual by the time they reach high school, to prepare themselves as best they can for what can be a most precarious life without preparation? Will we not help the heterosexually-developing to deal effectively with the inevitable homosexuality of others, e.g., their children, wives or husbands, friends, strangers, etc.? Parents must learn that their gay children need not look ahead to only horror. Homosexuals need to know that they are not stuck in vocational options of only hair dressing or interior designing just as other minority group members have had to see themselves as other than domestics or grape pickers.
The established order is in a position to enforce its prejudices and we must be careful not to expect good will to prevail without a fight. For example, the American Council on Education reports that the University of Minnesota spent $25,000 defending up to the U.S. Supreme Court its decision not to have an avowed homosexual on its library staff.
It is past time for us to acknowledge the obvious need for our knowledge to be applied to those for whom careers are closed and life styles shut off simply because of their acknowledged sexual preferences. What this may mean in each case will be determined by the relative openness of the person in question and the occupational situation in which he or she wants to work. In general, though, counselors must try to re-educate themselves, clients, clients’ co-workers, employers, and the public at large. We must try to make it clear that sexual orientation has no significance on the job and should not be a factor in hiring, promotion, or firing. We must support real-life evidence of responsible role models for our young people so that they are not left with only outworn and useless versions of “themselves.” While we try to change discriminatory policies and practices we must also alert our homosexual clients to the facts and possible consequences of current discrimination.
VOL. 1, NO.3, JULY 1974
The defeat of the New York City bill which would have banned discrimination against homosexuals in jobs, housing, and public accommodations was the first bill killed on the City Council floor since the Council was formed 36 years ago. This is an index of the deeply-rooted discrimination which requires the kind of legislative intervention intended in the bill. Some hope comes, though, from the hinterlands, where similar bills have been passed. Now the Acanfora case has been carried to the U.S. Supreme Court and a bill has been filed in the U.S. Congress to add “sexual orientation” to the list of anti-discrimination characteristics of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Sooner or later, goals of the struggle to secure such fundamental rights to work, shelter, and public facilities can be won. But if it is later instead of sooner, organized bigotry and ignorance will continue to deprive so many more people of the means to economic stability and human dignity which most other Americans take for granted. Whether sooner or later, experience teaches that there is no question that a real struggle must be endured before these rights are secured for all.
Those of us who consider ourselves to be members of what is sometimes cynically called the “helping professions” must face the fact that no amount of self-styled liberalism, libertarianism, or other largesse in point of view is of any effect without a workable endeavor to overcome policies and practices which waste the lives and talents of some of our citizens. The helping professionals cannot help by only blithely acknowledging that homosexuals are not necessarily evil and sick. We must actively support the rights to live where one chooses and to enter and advance in the career for which one is qualified without regard to private sexual preferences. We in the helping professions are in a better position than most to understand the terrible toll to the victims of discrimination. We are also in a position at local, state, and national levels to help to correct those conditions if only we will act on what we know and profess to be necessary for the fuller functioning of people in their private lives and in the world of work.
VOL. 1, NO. 4, OCTOBER 1974
By now it should be evident to anyone with experience with homosexuals, an adequate understanding of human sexual development, and a healthy dose of common sense and decency that homosexuals and their families could be better prepared for homosexuality than they have been. We in the helping professions should stop deceiving ourselves and them and acknowledge that to begin to adapt to a homosexual life of one’s own is of importance at an earlier age than we have been allowing for out of a concern for our economic security and public relations. How many more years of adolescence, young adulthood, and even middle age must be wasted in guilt-ridden and frustrating attempts to accommodate to unrealistic expectations of a society which has failed to meet the needs of those of our children who quite naturally develop homosexually at the same time that most of our children are developing heterosexually. No doubt we would be appalled if someone were to suggest that we should not help young people to learn to deal with their heterosexuality as well as they can—even in a generally supportive heterosexual world. But many would be appalled at the suggestion that we should help young people to learn to deal with their homosexuality as well as they can—especially because of a generally oppressive heterosexual world.
The courts are now trying to determine whether young people have the same constitutional rights as their elders. School boards and parents’ groups are arguing over what books children should be permitted to read. School administrators are trying to squelch the formation of gay student groups in high schools and colleges. Meanwhile, sex among teenagers is common and the young, particularly homosexually-developing boys and girls, are still forced to struggle independently in arriving at some sort of management of their sexual identities and behavior in whatever way they can. If our children were manufactured in toy factories we could make sure that they were all the same, —all what we wanted: perfectly programmed heterosexuals. But our children are real people with a natural capacity, and sometimes a preference, for homosexuality. When will we admit this and get on with more appropriate responses to the facts of life?
VOL. 2, NO. 1, JANUARY 1975
The name of this publication is the Homosexual Counseling Journal. It is published by the Homosexual Community Counseling Center. We have a reason for the emphasizing u se of the term, “homosexual.” Men and women who are sexually attracted to members of their own sex have this attraction in common, but there is nothing else that is necessarily shared. Nor need there be, either in terms of how they became homosexual, what they understand to be the meaning of the homosexuality, or what they want to do with their homosexuality. This point is an important one in view of the many ways in which some mental health workers, some journalists, some members of religious organizations, some gay liberationists, and some women’s liberationists and others intimidatingly categorize such men and women with a nonexistent sameness. The idea of sameness, when believed and internalized by both homosexuals and others, can frustrate coming to an appreciation and indeed a celebration of one’s very own identity and can force a person into an unworkable lifestyle that belongs to someone else.
Of course, there can be a difficulty in that “homosexual” may over-emphasize the sexual aspect, as though homosexuals were obsessed with sex as such. However, “homosexual” can be used simply to indicate sexual object-choice just as “heterosexual” is used simply to indicate sexual object-choice. No sexual obsessiveness need be implied. “Straight” connotes a singular lifestyle; “gay” does also. If you will, when it comes to lifestyle, it can be said that there are “straight” and “gay” heterosexuals as well as “straight” and “gay” homosexuals and there are all sorts of lifestyles in between. There are as many lifestyles for homosexuals as there are homosexuals; as many life styles for heterosexuals as there are heterosexuals. Nobody need be saddled with anybody else’s version of what constitutes the “right” lifestyle. As we have said before, there are more alternatives for homosexuals than limp wrists or clenched fists. Sadly, so few seem to recognize or act on this. Each of us is our own homosexuality or heterosexuality or anything else. When we learn who we are, for the time being, in a number of ways, values, and so on, we shall know what our homosexuality can be.
If we did not believe that there could be better preparation for dealing with the special problems of homosexuality by members of the helping professions we would not be publishing the Homosexual Counseling Journal. If we did not believe that there were ways for homosexual men and women and their families to be better prepared for homosexuality we would not have founded the Homosexual Community Counseling Center. Thus we would continue to do well in not overlooking certain significant implications of homosexuality in American society today, but even in this there are tremendous individual differences to respect.
VOL. 2, NO. 2, APRIL 1975
As one reads research literature one may observe that the constraints on a scientific answer to a good research question have been overlooked in too many instances. These constraints can be seen in terms of axiology, epistemology, and administrative limitations.
The axiological constraints entail, first of all, fundamental commitments or assumptions which may be called pre-theoretical and pre-scientific or pre-experimental assignments of value. They arise out of the relativities of the culture in which the researcher has been reared even prior to entering the field of research. They have to do with that which is currently prized in the researcher’s society, both professional and extra-professional settings. The very objects about which he or she is concerned, as well as the dimensions and meanings, are also included under delimiting axiological influences. What researchers will see and fail to see in looking at these objects which they have screened in or out already is limited by the prior probabilities about what it is they believe. In a sense, we see it when we believe it. Consequences or the responses of colleagues and outside agents of any area of society, are also colored by these prior valuations. Thus, those conclusions which will be tolerated in terms of taste are likely to be supported and published and those which do not conform are likely to be given little if any notice.
The epistemic constraints follow the axiological and are kept within “proper” bounds by them. Scientific answers are constrained by the lack of an epistemic base sufficient for raising the next questions, let alone concluding in workable solutions. They are limited not simply by what is known or unknown, but more accurately by what is known to be known or unknown by any one researcher at any one time and not by “the field” as a whole. The ways in which content is classified and described delimits its generative potential and thus they restrict the terms in which answers will be recognized as answers.
The administrative constraints upon a scientific answer include the most wide-ranging matters of pragmatics. These include such qualifications as financial, personnel, legal, and time-wise limitations. What is studied will be delimited in these terms simply because there is not an inexhaustible supply of researchers, funds, and time, nor are all methods of research equally appropriate, available, or authorized. The administrative constraints point back to and rest upon both bases of “know-how” and approval.
No wonder it has taken so long to begin to approach more scientific answers in questions of homosexuality, whether critics arise from the professional or lay communities.
VOL. 2, NO. 3, JULY 1975
In research, plausible inferences can best be drawn by creatively adopting hitherto overlooked or undiscovered ways of describing the phenomena in one’s field. Such new ways of looking at these phenomena must be made with reference to what it is that seems to be needed in one’s field at the time of investigation and thus must rest on a fairly thorough review of the relevant literature and an awareness of the important cutting edge in the field. The more one “knows” the field, the less one is likely to collect irrelevant data. A variety of methodologies may increase the chances of collecting either relevant or irrelevant data.
However, so-called irrelevant data collected along the way, either by oneself or by others, can be so designated only in terms of the context of the researcher’s immediate interest and for the sake of unity and not in terms of alternative interests or explanations. Editors collect our fair share of “irrelevant” data and the pink slips we mail to would-be authors may testify not so much to the irrelevancy of their efforts as they do to our inability to fit these data into our plans. The data should be saved if there appears to be the remotest value in such, even if we must foist value in terms of present knowledge, interest, or imagination. In our attempt to distinguish relevant from irrelevant data, we do well to remember that there are no impartial rules within which a researcher, editor, or reviewer can make such evaluations. This is a particularly important point of view as one assaults or is assaulted by the ever-growing literature on a homosexuality heretofore so narrowly defined and ill-understood and now being pushed and pulled into shapes that are understandably unfamiliar.
VOL. 2, NO. 4, OCTOBER 1975
Therapists hear complaints from sexually promiscuous clients, gay and straight, who wonder why their lives have so little or no meaning. These clients seem to have difficulty recognizing that the more desperately they pursue shallow and disposable sex, the emptier their lives remain. Some therapists cover for them. They would not be caught dead showing their clients the weakness inherent in their attempted escapes, especially if such correction might sound too “morally judgmental.” After all, they think that we have “had it” with the so-called “puritan ethic,” and they prefer to deal only with the “facts”—whatever they are.
It is a shame that clear calls to moral responsibility and character-building these days seem to have to come from homophobic psychiatrists such as Herbert Hendin (The Age of Sensation), Charles Socarides (Beyond Sexual Freedom), and L.A.’s homophobic police chief Ed Davis, and not from those of us who have a better understanding of homosexuality as not necessarily tied to any one mode of living. This trio’s attacks on “the overweening demand for gratification,” “the new promise of orgastic paradise,” and “moral poverty” among so many people today would be more believable and refreshing were it not for the impression that these men are mainly interested in attacking a sexual orientation which they find strange and unacceptable.
Donald T. Campbell, the new president of the American Psychological Association, is to be enthusiastically applauded for his forthright address at the Chicago convention in which he admonished therapists who have been so simple-minded in their antagonism against self-restraint and who have regarded guilt as a sure symptom of neurosis. Surely we can well recognize the unnecessarily repressive nature of some of yesterday’s taboos without abandoning guidelines facilitating a richer and more rewarding life for both individuals and society. More than it has been fashionable to say recently, the indiscriminate and compulsive seeking after transient sex, homosexual or heterosexual, can be evidence of diffuse personal anxiety and disintegration. At the least, its power for fulfillment is very limited and expectations for its gratification are exaggerated. People get a slick sell from commercial peddlers of the sexual avant-garde and horror stories from scolding and ignorant prudes. Therapists who can help in getting underneath the frantic promiscuity to underlying insecurity and despair, owe something better to lonely clients who wonder if there is not “something more.”
VOL. 3, NO. 1, JANUARY 1976
Here and there one finds some reference to homosexuality in legal papers, letters, personal journals, newspapers, and literature from throughout our 200 years. While others can look back for their origins in this country to certain years, points of entry, even to specific ships, homosexuals do not have such a conventional heritage. Homosexuals were on every one of those ships, at every point of entry, each year. Germans settled in Wisconsin, French in Louisiana, Irish in Boston, Jews in New York, and black people were brought to the South. Homosexuals were there among them all. Homosexuals were already here when the first Europeans landed on these shores. No group of Americans has less in common—or more. Nevertheless, homosexuals have not been welcome in this land of freedom and opportunity, not even in their own families.
In his 1779 “Bill for Proportioning Crime and Punishment,” Thomas Jefferson proposed castration for any man guilty of sodomy and, for any woman thus guilty, a hole cut through the cartilage of her nose. After two centuries there are still millions of Americans who are not permitted, if others have a say, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if homosexuality is involved. Even “civil rights” activists can yell, “To hell with queers,” and get away with it. Judges still take away opportunities for freedom because of a homosexual act, even between consenting adults in private. Careers are denied because some employers still cannot abide the thought of a homosexual act. Legitimate complaints could be recited, and to little or no avail, on and on throughout the night. Of course we should continue to work hard to try to make America live up to its promise (though never implied for homosexuals) of freedom of opportunity for all. But, if we wait around until an insecure majority wants rights secured for gays, forget it! We will live and die without our freedom.
Fundamentally, how each of us can handle the situation today is to do so as our sometimes bloodied, ever bloodless, lineage handled the situation in the past: with our minds. Let us be careful that we do not so overwhelm ourselves with oppression rhetoric that we miss a basic truth. If we have a why to live, we can cope with almost any how.
VOL. 3, NO. 2, APRIL 1976
When our forebears wrote the Declaration of Independence, they boldly became the only people to ever make an official national commitment to the establishment of conditions for the pursuit of happiness. To this they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Two hundred years later, the Supreme Court of the nation so founded has ruled that states may indeed prosecute and imprison our people for doing certain commonly performed sex acts with consenting adults even in the privacy of their own homes and in their pursuit of sexual and affectional happiness. One need not—one cannot—show that our forebears would have ruled otherwise during their lives. However, it is not hard to imagine that such progressive men, if they were alive today and had the benefit of twentieth century sexology available to our present Court, might again cast their lot on the side of conditions favorable to that pursuit of happiness which they saw as self-evident and for which they did sacrifice their lives and their property.
The insensitive ruling of the Court leaves standing thirty-five states’ restrictions on adult sexual behavior, even though these states formulated their sodomy laws in what was truly “another era,” even though these laws apply to both heterosexual and homosexual acts, and even though the trend has been for state legislatures (now thirteen) to repeal such laws as out-of-date with contemporary knowledge and a sense of social justice.
The ruling shows us again in this Bicentennial year how far we are from understanding and applying the commitments of our founders. Obviously, we in the behavioral sciences and helping professions need to do our jobs more effectively. It is malpractice, intellectual dishonesty, and poor citizenship not to try.