Sexual orientation is a debate that has attracted diverse reactions from people. Societies have shown different attitudes towards homosexual relationships over time. Such attitudes range from anticipating all people to engage in heterosexual relationships. This situation resulted in the creation of laws that repressed homosexual relationships in the early 1900s. Such policies were enforced through judicial mechanisms.
The current paper conducts analysis of 15 articles that have been drawn from online media. The articles discuss the emerging debate on homosexuality and the changing perceptions about sexual orientation. It finds the articles useful to therapists in terms of navigating through decisions that regard homosexuality. It also finds mixed reactions and attitudes towards homosexuality in religious and political domains.
Over the years, several groups of people have come forward to claim their sexual rights. Sexuality defines diverse and deeply ingrained sexual attractions or feelings towards other people. The attraction may be channeled towards people who belong to the same sex (homosexuals), different sexes (heterosexuals), or towards two sexes (bisexuals). Researchers fail to agree on the reasons why people develop specific types of sexual orientations (Glassgold, 2008). However, some theorists attribute sexuality to genetic factors and/or initial stages of development within the uterine environment (McIlhaney & McKissic, 2008).
Although environment contributes to the adoption of certain behaviors, there is limited scientific evidence that can demonstrate that childhood environmental experiences and/or parenting can influence sexual orientation (American Psychological Association, 2013). Different people in the media hold different opinions on the debate on different forms of sexual orientations. For instance, Schlanger and Wolfson (2014) assert that homosexuality is unnatural. However, Glassgold (2008) confirms, “research has shown that homosexuality is an example of a normal and natural variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects” (p.60).
Common types of homosexuality encompass lesbianism and gayism. However, the term gay describes sexual attraction between females and females or males and males. The debate on homosexuality varies from supporting it as a fundamental human right and its condemnation in the right of ethical and moral norms. This paper develops this debate by considering its opposing views. It first summarizes articles on homosexuality before analyzing the content of the articles in the context of the course materials. Finally, it discusses how therapists might use this information to help a potential client navigate perspectives and/or decisions regarding homosexuality.
Summary of the Articles
From 2001, some nations among them the US, Argentina, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, and South Africa among others began to authenticate gay marriages. Following this legalization, proponents of same-sex marriage advocate legislative changes to the existing marriage laws. According to Sengupta (2014), their presumption is that permitting gay marriages is one of the mechanisms of enhancing practical applicability of constitutional provisions of equality and respect for individual rights and choices.
Sengupta (2014) discusses international obligations to respect human rights, including homosexuality rights. The article notes that nations such as the US, Netherlands, Norway, and the EU are mainly driven by this debate. For instance, Sengupta (2014) cites the case of the EU pressure on Nigeria to embrace gay rights by reminding it on the obligations under international law to respect human rights. The article confirms that donor nations have come out conspicuously to campaign for the rights of lesbians and gays by imposing diplomatic threats to nations, which discriminate people along their sexual orientations.
Legality of homosexuality entails social, religious, civil rights, and political issues in numerous nations (Winerip, 2014). Debates are continuing to arise on the need to give same-sex sexual relationships equal civil union rights in comparison with heterosexual relationships. Winerip (2014) maintains that giving such rights is necessary in terms of ensuring equality among all people amid their sexual orientation, as homosexuality is no longer seen as a psychiatric disorder. The article recounts stories of people embracing their sexual orientations without paying attention to the existing social stigmas.
In the modern age, although homosexuality encompasses a fundamental right, this situation is not the case in some states. Schwirtz (2014) reports anti-gay attacks in the United States. In his article, ‘Man in Subway is injured in Antigay attack, Police say’ he reports that a man in Greenwich punched a gay couple in March 2014 (Schwirtz, 2014). The attacker had first asked whether the duo was a gay. Upon being ignored, he proceeded to make annoying statements about homosexuals. He then punched one of the men before fleeing for his safety. Schwirtz (2014) informs that this scenario is not the only case of anti-gay attacks. In 2013, a 32-year-old gay man named Mark Carson was shot dead in Greenwich Village.
Supporters of homosexuality as a fundamental right cite social stigmas as a common problem that hinders people from coming out openly to declare their sexual orientation. In fact, due to the fear of stereotyping, people have always feared that they might risk their careers by openly declaring they are gays. However, Stanley (2014) and Yee (2014) portray gayism as a normal sexual orientation that people are no longer afraid about in the public domain.
Stanley and Yee (2014) initiate the debate on how the film industry has served the principal function of championing for gay rights. The article presumes that through the theme of gay rights came out strongly in the ‘12 Years a Slave’ in relation to the traditional reflection of themes of racial discrimination in the Hollywood films. In yet another film, Dallas Buyers Club, Stanley (2014) asserts that its characters such as Mr. Leto championed for gay rights by supporting protests in Ukraine. In this context, Stanley (2014) concludes that the film industry has resorted to correcting its contribution to the problem of stereotyping homosexuals.
Despite the acceptance of the need to protect homosexuality rights, some people have the fear of expressing their views on homosexuality explicitly. For instance, Tan (2014) informs an Illinois congressperson who is a gay who fails to support equal rights on sexuality orientation. Tan (2014) reports that he was caught in a shower with a male roommate. In yet another incidence, he was found strolling within a neighborhood that was dominated by gays (Tan, 2014). This instance portrays homosexuality as a sexual orientation that people shy to embrace in the public domain.
The above assertion makes more impact upon considering the story of two ex-gays who got married in 2000 (Schlanger & Wolfson, 2014). Newsweek magazine narrates the story of John Paulk who lived the gay life for 14 years before marrying Ann, another ex-gay. Through this story, Schlanger and Wolfson (2014) hold that the case of Ann and Paulk evidences that people can reverse their sexual orientation and live healthy lives. Perhaps, this scenario paints same-sex relationships as inferior compared to heterosexual marriages.
Wolfson (2014) reports Texas’ positions on the need to change sexual orientation amongst its residents. The author claims that Texas Republican Tea Party embraced “a social gathering podium for 2014 that was backed up by the famous ‘reparative rehabilitation’ as a psychosomatic strategy that can alter the sexual status of grownups from gays to moral people (Wolfson, 2014). This move attracted criticism from gay supporters claiming that the platform was characterized by heavy anti-gay sentiments. Swaine (2014) supports the need for curing homosexuality. In this extent, sexual orientation seems like a disorder, which people revert to their normal sexual orientation upon psychotherapeutic intervention.
Political debate on gay marriages has been one of the incredible concerns since 1990s. Yee (2014) evidences the changing political debate on gay rights by discussing the contribution of mayor de Blasio in the debate. The article informs that the mayor boycotted this year’s St. Patrick’s parade asserting that it supported policies that prohibit homosexuality. However, he accepted to match along Skillman Avenue in conjunction with advocates for gay rights.
Upon being questioned on his absence in the Rockaway’s parade during St. Patrick’s Day this year while he had participated in the same event in 2013, de Blasio confirmed that he now supports a parade that collectively embraces all people amid their diversity, including their sexual orientations. This move suggests a changing political opinion on the need to embrace the rights of all people. However, Dowd (2014) opposes the marching of gays during St. Patrick’s Day parade by terming it as backward. She asserts that it is inappropriate to lay verdicts on the appropriateness or wrongness of homosexuality.
Although Yee (2014) reports that de Blasio chose to boycott St. Patrick’s parade, Goldstein (2014) reported that New York City’s police commissioner chose to take part in the event amid its history of discriminating gays. In this extent, Goldstein (2014) presents opposing administrative perceptions and positions on homosexuality. This claim suggests that the subject of homosexuality attracts mixed perceptions among administrative actors in New York and other states and/or nations. Amid these mixed perceptions, Kerry, the secretary of state for the US, expressed the position of the US as a nation on gay issues (Gordon, 2014). He termed anti-gay policies as constituting laws that are “contrary to human rights and human nature” (Gordon, 2014, Para.2) reminiscent of President Obama’s position on gay rights.
In an interview with ABC News on May 9, 2012, President Obama informed that upon struggling for years with the question of legality of gay marriages, it was time that he clearly confirmed that same-sex marriages have to be permitted. However, this statement does not reflect the position of America on gay marriages. President Obama further claimed that individual states have to be given a chance to give their views on the recognition of gay marriages.
The position that was adopted by President Obama on gay marriages in 2012 is contrasting with an earlier statement that he had made in 2008 where he claimed that marriage entails a union between a woman and a man whereby it is a sacred union for Christians in which God is always in the mix. Nevertheless, this claim does not imply that President Obama opposed the rights for gays and lesbians.
Although it is important to embrace homosexuality, Beasley (2014) presents it as risky behavior. Quoting research by CDC, Beasley (2014) asserts that homosexuality may result in higher public health problems. For instance, he claims that gay sexual orientation can increase HIV and syphilis rates of infection among men. For instance, based on CDC data, Beasley (2014) states that “the US syphilis rate of infection in 2013 was 5.3 cases per 100,000 people, more than twice the all-time low of 2.1 cases per 100,000 people in 2000” (Para.6). The author recognizes that several campaigns have been put in place to address the problem of increased rate of syphilis infections among gays. However, he quickly points out that many of the strategies have failed in large scale.
Sienczkowski (2014) confirms that some people have embraced their sexuality and courageously wanted to disclose it, although the public seems unaware and hesitant. Most of them have made a disclosure to their family members and even close friends. For instance, in 1992, a lesbian, O’Donnell was interviewed by a cosmopolitan where she put it very clearly about her sexual status (Sienczkowski, 2014). However, the cosmopolitan never disclosed publicly her sexuality status as a way of protecting individual sexual orientation.
Amid the early censoring of sexuality information by the media, cosmopolitans are now candidly opening up to the public issues on sexuality rights in an effort to propagate Human Rights (Sienczkowski, 2014). Loving Life Designs (2014) supports this changing trend by revealing that as time moves on, the world also changes so that people are not looked down because of the choices they make. Responding to this change in media’s position on homosexuality, cosmopolitans widely expose lesbianism, gayism, and other sexual status, their grief, and interests. In fact, cosmopolitans have gone to the extent of providing accessibility to feminist publications (Loving Life Designs, 2014).
The question of the legality of different forms of sexual relationships attracts valid opinions from different political and religious scholars. For instance, Behrens and Rosen (2011, p.40) assert that the entire institution of marriage will immensely change in case gay relationships are legalized. The traditional perceptions that children are better placed under the custodianship of their mothers will also change (Behrens & Rosen, 2011).
From this context, legalization of gay relationships, which are born of sexual orientation such as homosexuality, will influence the institution of marriage in various ways. However, many of the articles do not support this position. Media has changed from profiling homosexual relationships as socially inferior to supporting their relevance in the realm of propagating human rights. However, reluctance by some people to embrace homosexuality in the public domain, yet they practice it, indicates remnants of perceptions that some forms of sexuality orientations are inferior. Directing violence towards people of certain sexual orientations creates fear when exercising one’s sexuality.
The above discussions present homosexuality as constituting a debate that has attracted mixed reactions in the public domain. This situation compares with the rising debates on sexuality in the course materials. For instance, although Balswick and Balswick (2008) do not ridicule sexual orientations, they cite various ideological approaches to homosexuality. For instance, they assert that opponents of gay relationships base their arguments on grounds of parenting and religious concerns.
Their main claim is that same-sex marriages will translate into inclusions of incest and polygamy among other marital ideas as expressed by natural laws (McIlhaney & McKissic, 2008). In the same perspective, Balswick and Balswick (2008) cite that the normative idea of unions between a man and a woman is based on the foundation of fidelity. Even though this notion is not largely honored in practice, it is a normative idea to which everyone aspires to achieve since in humanity there exists moral forces that set out some things as right and/or wrong.
In the context of heterosexual relationships, faithfulness is considered morally appropriate and right while adultery is wrong. Therefore, conventional relationships oppose homosexual practices (McIlhaney & McKissic, 2008). Southern Baptist Convention asserts that religious people in the United States maintain that giving marital rights to gay marriages will undermine the traditional purpose of marriage, which includes child bearing.
Even though this group of opponents of gay marriage recognizes that parenthood can be attained through direct siring of children and other ways such as adoption, they cling to the idea that children are well brought up in an environment that is dominated by father and mother figures. Consequently, legalization of same-sex marriages will amount to doing contrary to the interests of children.
Upon considering the argument that children are best brought up in a setting with female mother figure and male further figure, views on issues that surround gay relationships such as the challenge of acquiring children do not arise in the media debates on homosexuality as discussed before (McIlhaney & McKissic, 2008; Balswick & Balswick, 2008).
Perhaps, the failure to achieve certain anticipations out of a marriage such as children may reveal the profiling of homosexuality as a condition that requires treatment by actors in the debate as discussed by Wolfson (2014) and Schlanger and Wolfson (2014). Although Balswick and Balswick (2008) recognize the importance of respecting the rights of all people amid their sexual orientation, homosexuality discrimination encompasses a real problem that is encountered in different nations across the globe. Sengupta (2014) provides information on the extent and seriousness of this challenge.
He asserts that estimates drawn from the US indicates homosexuals encounter discrimination in more than 78 nations while some 7 nations impose a death penalty on people who are convicted of having homosexual affairs (Sengupta, 2014). Gordon (2014) also recognizes the need to respect gay rights by stating that anti-gay laws in many nations amount to the erosion of their freedom and human rights. McIlhaney and McKissic (2008) support this position, although they claim that several issues must be addressed to avoid negative stereotyping of homosexuals.
There is a major concern in legalizing gay marriage. Some religious scholars say it will also result in the legalization of group marriages and polygamy on the same ground that will have been cited for legalization of gay marriage such as respect of individual choices and rights (Balswick & Balswick, 2008). Therefore, it is possible that legalization of gay marriages amounts to challenging religious liberty and charities based on Christianity faith across nations that have recognized the needs to honor gay marriages (Balswick & Balswick, 2008).
Although living in the world of equality and compliance with fundamental human rights is important, media presents homosexuality as a good practice. The overall effect is the presentation of heterosexuality as an outdated form of sexuality. This situation raises concerns among proponents of conventional (heterosexual marriages) that media is supporting a shift of behaviors from what is religiously legitimately right form of relationships to relationships that are considered inappropriate in religious lens (Balswick & Balswick, 2008).
Conventional marriage norms rest on the platforms of commitment, taking responsibilities and making sacrifices. Opponents of gay relationships claim that these elements are the main things that homosexuals attempt to avoid. However, it is critical to point out that the whole concept of respecting gay rights is to create recognition of gay life in the inflexible understanding of traditional family (McIlhaney & McKissic, 2008). Recognizing their rights implies that gays will get a green light to openly practice what they obviously practice in hideouts, and yet deny their sexuality in the public domain as in the case of Aaron Schock as discussed by Tan (2014). Whether media truthfully presents homosexuality as increasingly rampant or not, failing to recognize its practice does not necessarily mean that the way of life will end.
Consistent with the course material, the articles present homosexuality as a way of life that will take time before unanimously being embraced by people from all social, political, and religious foundations. For instance, mixed reactions by politicians in the matters of honoring gay rights are akin to the need to balance conventional moral beliefs on what constitutes a sexuality orientation and the constitutional rights of choice. Whether same-sex relationships are socially acceptable or not, McIlhaney and McKissic (2008) are concerned with the signal that any of them will send to young people. In this end, it is plausible to infer that with political and legal jurisdiction inputs on the issue of homosexuality, it is likely that the human sexuality will be shaped in valid ways.
The main question that is of psychological importance, which arises from the work of McIlhaney and McKissic (2008), Balswick and Balswick (2008), and the summarized articles is whether sexuality is genetically or phenotypically acquired. Can it be changed through psychological therapeutic interventions such as Reparative Therapy? Behrens and Rosen (2011) respond partially to these questions by quoting E.L Pattullo’s (a professor at Harvard University) position on gay rights in which the professor claims that some people are either born to live gay or straight lives.
Indifferences that are created by the society about gay or straight marriages may lead to confusion on these people. Such confusion may result from people’s denial of their right to practice what is inborn in them due to societal confusions. This situation may lead to prejudicing their sexuality rights and affiliations, and hence the deduction that is extended in support of gay rights by proponents of civil rights as evidenced by Gordon (2014).
Conclusively, the course materials and the articles compare in the sense that they present homosexuality as a subject that attracts immense public debate. Amid the proclamation of their rights in many nations, the articles and course materials evidence that stigma and negative social profiling remain a major problem that is encountered by homosexuals. For instance, in particular, in early 1990s, media treated homosexuality as a contentious issue.
This instance perhaps reveals why the earlier mentioned ‘cosmopolitan’ failed to expose sexuality status of Rosie O’Donnell amid declaring openly to her close family members that she was gay (lesbian) (Sienczkowski, 2014). While McIlhaney and McKissic (2008) and Balswick & Balswick (2008) do not give their opinions on whether homosexuality is right or not, media has shifted from its tradition of negative profiling of homosexuals to its advocacy for public domain as evidenced by Loving Life Designs (2014).
Navigating Perspectives and/or Decisions on Homosexuality
Evidence suggests that sexual orientation cannot be changed through psychological interventions (Glassgold, 2008). Indeed, mental health specialists, social, and behavioral researchers contend that homosexuality amounts to an acceptable variation in sexuality orientation (American Psychological Association, 2013). This claim implies that homosexuality cannot be treated as a mental disorder that demands psychiatric therapeutic interventions such as Reparative Therapy as suggested by (Wolfson, 2014) so that those who practice it can adopt the heterosexual orientation.
In this extent, the question of how the information provided by the articles can be deployed to change people’s sexual orientation is inappropriate. Rather, an appropriate interrogative encompasses how such information can be deployed to help therapists navigate through various decisions on how to address distress that is associated with negative profiling and social stigma on homosexuality.
From the summary of the articles, it is evident that homosexual orientation exposes people to situations, which make them perceive their sexual orientation as inappropriate. For instance, the cases of shooting Carson and punching of a man in Greenwich (Schwirtz, 2014) indicate that gay homosexuals are prone to suffering from mental distress that is associated with antigay attacks.
Apart from violence, which is directed towards homosexuals, and direct application of anti-gay laws in some nations to the extent of making them experience stigma, interventions that seek to reduce homosexuality feelings also serve to profile homosexuality as an abnormal feeling. For instance, American Psychological Association (2013) states that some people subscribe to the notion, “homosexuality has symptoms of developmental defects or spiritual and moral failings…and that SOCE, including psychotherapy and religious efforts, can alter homosexual feelings and behaviors” (p. 5). Navigating through such stigma requires therapeutic interventions.
Knowledge of the likely sources of distress among homosexuals is important in helping therapists make the most effective decisions on how to ensure that such people embrace their diversity in terms of sexual orientation. Consequently, the existing evidence supports any coping skills that are adopted by therapists to address specific causes of stigma and violence. One of the coping skills involves seeking solutions to the problem through the appropriate channels.
In this extent, to relieve a person of the feeling that nothing can be done to protect his or her unique feelings, information on his or her political stand on homosexuality becomes very important to therapists. Before therapists can adopt appropriate techniques of ensuring that homosexuals who face segregation embrace their sexuality so that they can navigate through various negative profiling, support of the homosexuality by political actors implies that homosexuals can develop hope that legal redress against perpetrators of violence against them is available.
The information provided in the articles presents confusion due to sexuality orientation. Therapists can use such information in navigating through decisions on homosexuality by ensuring that people refrain from worrying about their sexuality and the associated social stigma. Reducing fear constitutes an important aspect for ensuring success in therapeutic healing from mental distress (Glassgold, 2008).
In fact, cognition of the likely challenges that are encountered when pursuing and respecting one’s true feelings is instrumental in enhancing coping skills with reference to mental distress. The articles provide evidence that media can help in building fear and anxiety among discriminated people in society by recounting experiences of people who lead a similar way of life such as homosexuality, although they also acknowledge romantic orientations of different people.
Through the information that is provided in media, therapists can identify the sources of anxiety and distress among minority groups of people who live in discriminatory social contexts to facilitate the enactment of appropriate procedures for enhancing recovery from likely psychological disorders together with prescribing positive living strategies without relapse.
In particular, from the information that has been gathered from the articles, it is evident that living as a minority in terms of sexual orientation constitutes one of the significant sources of anxiety, which is a risk factor to stress disorder (American Psychological Association, 2013). While arriving at necessary therapeutic decisions to foster healing from stress-related disorders, familiarity and experience on causes and successful therapeutic intervention outcomes are incredibly important. This familiarity can be enhanced through information gathering on experiences of homosexuals. In this extent, media acts as an important source of information.
A summary of various articles, which have been drawn from online resources evidence that although homosexuality has been recognized by various organizations such as the UN and the American Psychological Association as a normal feeling, there is still fear among different people to proclaim their homosexual status. Antigay laws are also prevalent among some nations.
The perception of exclusion of homosexuals and fear of acerbating violence towards them may create anxiety, a condition that requires therapeutic intervention. However, for success of such interventions, information on the sources of anxiety is important to help therapists navigate through various decisions than can enhance coping skills in dealing with stigma that is attached to homosexuality orientation. Media acts as a source of such information.
American Psychological Association. (2013). Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change. New York, NY: American Psychological Association.
Balswick, J., & Balswick, J. (2008). Authentic human sexuality: An integrated Christian approach. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.
Beasley, D. (2014). Syphilis Cases Increase Among U.S. Gay And Bisexual Men: CDC. Web.
Behrens, L., & Rosen, L. (2011). Writing and Reading across the Curriculum. Boston, MA: Longman.
Dowd, M. (2014). Parade Marches Backward. Web.
Glassgold, J. (2008). Bridging the divide: Integrating lesbian identity and Orthodox Judaism. Women and Therapy, 31(1), 59-73.
Goldstein, J. (2014). Bratton Not Following De Blasio’s Lead on Parade. Web.
Gordon, M. (2014). Kerry Condemns Uganda’s Antigay Law. Web.
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McIlhaney, J., & McKissic, F. (2008). Hooked: New science on how casual sex is affecting our children. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.
Schlanger, S., & Wolfson, E. (2014). Ex-Ex Gay Pride. Web.
Schwirtz, M. (2014). Man in subway is injured in antigay attack, police say. Web.
Sengupta, S. (2014). Antigay Laws Gain Global Attention; Countering Them Remains a Challenge. Web.
Sienczkowski, C. (2014). Rosie O’Donnell Reveals Cosmopolitan Stopped Her From Coming Out As Gay In 1992. Web.
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Stanley, A. (2014). Staking a Claim on Social Causes. Web.
Swaine, J. (2014). Faith and a Media Icon: Newsweek’s Unconventional New Owners. Web.
Tan, S. (2014). Anti-Gay US Congressional Representative Aaron Schock Outed By Journalist. Web.
Winerip, M. (2014). Rainbow-Hued Housing for Gays in Golden Years. Web.
Wolfson, E. (2014). Texas Republican Party Adopts Discredited ‘Reparative Therapy’ for Gays. Web.
Yee, V. (2014). Boycott of St. Patrick’s Day Parade Puts Mayor in Middle. Web.